Efforts to identify the individuals responsible for orchestrating the violent unrest, riots and looting that rocked KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng in July have progressed on Sunday, with two more suspected instigators placed under arrest on suspicion of involvement in the alleged attempt to institute an insurrection against government.
The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation – Better known as the Hawks – announced on 29 August that two suspects have been remanded in custody due to their possible role in instigating the chaos that unfolded, bringing the total number of arrests to 18.
Two more suspects arrested by the Hawks
In a statement, the Hawks said that members from Crime Against the State – in conjunction with Crime Intelligence agencies – have arrested suspects aged 35 and 36-year-old for incitement to commit public violence on Saturday 28 August 2021 in Gauteng and KZN respectively.
“It is alleged that the KZN suspect, a 35-year-old man was involved in the incitement of public violence through social media and other platforms during the period of unrest in KwaZulu-Natal,” said Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale.
“As a result, Brookside Mall in Pietermaritzburg was broken into and criminal activities such as theft of goods occurred.”
During the incident, the mall was set alight by the suspects, the Hawks said.
Suspected instigator linked to controversial Twitter account
Mogale said that search and arrest warrants were authorised on Saturday 28 August and were subsequently executed, with the two men taken into custody ahead of their court appearance at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
The Hawks added that one of the suspected instigators of the unrest has ties to a popular (if not reputedly dubious) Twitter account that throws its support behind groups fighting for the release of incarcerated former President Jacob Zuma.
The 36-year-old Gauteng woman presents on Twitter as “Sphithiphithi Evaluator”, with the @_AfricanSoil handle currently commanding an online following of a 59 900 users.
‘Exhibits’ confiscated during arrest
She was was arrested yesterday during a search and seizure operation in Leondale, Gauteng, with Mogale further stating that Hawks members had carried out a “confiscation of exhibits” that will form part of the broader investigation into the riots.
“The suspect is expected to appear in the Palm Ridge Magistrates court on Monday, 30 August 2021 on charges of incitement to commit public violence,” he said.
“Investigations against those who incite, instigate or conspire with others to commit crime including public violence are continuing.”